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Dr Laura Leon Llerena

Associate Professor

Associate Professor in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Member of the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies


My research is concerned with the circulation in America and Europe of knowledge produced by and about indigenous peoples from the 16th to the 18th centuries. My published work has analyzed translation and colonization of indigenous languages, the complex coexistence of indigenous and European media, and the ways in which material culture and notions of the sacred and religion redefined social and cultural identities in early modern contexts. Methodologically and theoretically, my scholarship is anchored in literary studies with an interdisciplinary framework that draws on the fields of history, Indigenous studies, and anthropology.

My teaching practice at undergraduate and postgraduate levels encompasses colonial, postcolonial, and decolonial analysis of Latin American cultural productions from early modernity up to the 21st century. 

My book Reading the Illegible: Indigenous Writing and the Limits of Colonial Hegemony in the Andes (University of Arizona Press, 2023) focuses on the long first century of colonial Peru (1532-1648). It introduces the notion of legibility to discern the dynamic ways in which in a multi-lingual and multi-media colonial landscape, Indigenous Andeans and colonizers articulated various epistemological strategies in their uses of alphabetic writing and Indigenous media. Legibility emphasizes how the multiple practices of production of meaning were embedded in the constant negotiation of power in the religious, social and economic spheres, moving away from a traditional understanding of literacy that presuposes that the production of meaning was inherent to specific media.

 > University of Arizona Press

 > From-untranslatable-to-illegible

Office Hours

I will be on Research Leave for Michaelmas, Epiphany and Easter terms during the Academic Year 2023/24.

Research interests

  • Colonial Latin American Literature and History
  • Ethnography of Writing
  • Indigenous and Native American Studies
  • Religion and Culture Studies


Authored book

Book review

Chapter in book

Journal Article

Scholarly Edition

Supervision students